I’ve had a rather exciting week.
Partially because it’s been my birthday (yes, I know, I age and everything. Isn’t that just a peek behind the curtain?), but also because by total coincidence it was the date on my Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tickets.
For the past few months, I’ve been obsessively avoiding anything even slightly resembling a spoiler for Cursed Child. Ever since the script was released to the world, the internet has become a minefield of spoilers and commentary about it – and for those of us who were waiting to see the show unspoiled, it’s been a dangerous place indeed. Particularly since certain former newspapers seem to consist solely of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones spoilers these days, instead of doing any actual journalism (I’m looking at you, The Independent).
The good news? I survived unscathed; not a single spoiler reached me before seeing the show. Which was great, because that cliffhanger at the end of Part One is spectacular, and I’d have hated to know it was coming in advance.
Having worked backstage in a theatre off and on for the past few years, I’ve become a bit of a geek about theatre tricks, and the use of virtually every trick in the book for Cursed Child is absolute genius. The magic is amazingly well portrayed – and I still can’t work out how some of it was done!
One thing that I have seen in the meantime has been how many people have expressed their disappointment with the script. I can’t help but wonder how much of this simply boils down to the fact that it is a script, rather than a book. By their very nature, books and scripts have to work differently. Scripts have to be more obvious, more on the nose, for the simple fact that you’re spending a fraction of the time with the characters and the story when compared to a novel (and particularly when compared to the length of the later Potter novels!), so character quirks and personalities have to be telegraphed more overtly. A subtle whisper and facial expression doesn’t do the job for the person sat up at the back of the second balcony; it has to be announced. It has to be loud and flashy and obvious. It has to be, in other words, exactly the opposite of how good characterisation in a book works.
And I can see how that is jarring. I can see how it looks like bad writing for people who are trying to read a script as if it’s a book. I can see how difficult it is to understand and get used to for people who have never read a script before.
But honestly, when you see it on the stage, when you see the incredible effort put into every effect, every set-piece and every character portrayal…
It works. And it’s fantastic. And it made me feel like a little kid again.